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There could be no question about the humanity of
the argument, but I will now give an instance of his

At the Old Bailey he was presiding during a sessions
which was rather light for the times, there being less
than a score left for execution under sentence of death.



There were, in fact, only sixteen, most of them for
petty thefts.

His lordship, instead of reading the whole of the
sixteen names, omitted one, and read out only fifteen.
He then politely, and with exquisite precision and
solemnity, exhorted them severally to prepare for the
awful doom that awaited them the following Monday,
and pronounced on each the sentence of death.

They left the dock.

After they were gone the gaoler explained to his
lordship that there had been sixteen prisoners capitally
convicted, but that his lordship had omitted the name
of one of them, and he would like to know what was to
be done with him.

' What is the prisoner's name ?' asked Graham.

' John Robins, my lord.'

' Oh, bring John Robins back by all means let
John Robins step forward. I am obliged to you.'

The culprit was once more placed at the Bar, and
Graham, addressing him in his singularly courteous
manner, said apologetically :

' John Robins, I find I have accidentally omitted
your name in my list of prisoners doomed to execu-
tion. It was quite accidental, I assure you, and I
ask your pardon for my mistake. I am very sorry,
and can only add that you will be hanged with the

This singular Judge was ever complaining and
fretting over the disappointments of life. He was
dissatisfied with his position and worried about
trifles. The weather was a great source of annoyance
to him, and Sir Alexander Cockburn told me that
Graham said, if he had been one of those ephemeral


insects who live only a day, he would have been
brought into the world on a wet one.

Had he been born on any day this year (1903)
he would have a right to complain, for his life would,
indeed, have been unhappy.

Passing, for the sake of contrast, to more modern
times, I see on the Bench a man eminent indeed
in law, absorbed in it and permeated with it,
both common law and case law. He was one of
the most even-minded men I ever knew, but, unlike
Graham, rough in manner and hard in speech, with a
rasping Scotch accent. He was devoted to his
profession, although he never succeeded in it till
he became a Judge, and then he was successful in
his department almost without an equal. He was fair
to everybody, and nothing could sway him a hair's-
breadth from his conscientious conviction. Equally
impartial in criminal and in civil cases, his judicial
impartiality was recognised even by the criminals

During a Guildford Summer Assize some years ago
I learnt how even the most ignorant and depraved
can appreciate that divine quality. I was walking in
the meadows one afternoon, and two rough fellows
were lying on the grass, with their faces downward
and kicking the turf with their toes.

'Jemmy,' said one, 'that there bloke, the Lord
Judge, was d rough on our counsellor, worn't he ?'

' Yes, mate, he was, but he was d er rough on

the tother so he was. But, mind yer, that bloke
knows what's what, and what ain't ; he knows what's
law and what ain't; and he ain't goin' to scrag a man
for a bad character, nor let a swell get off for a good


un. What he said was right enough ; if we was
guilty they must prove it. I'd sooner be tried afore
that man than any o' them bloomin' mealy-mouthed
uns, as ull give yer seven stretch for not bein' a angel.'
I need not say this was Mr. Justice Blackburn,
who deserved this highest praise a Judge can receive.



THE old glories of the circuit days vanished with stage-
coaches and post-chaises. If you climbed on to the
former for the sake of economy because you could not
afford to travel in the latter, you would be fined at the
circuit mess, whose notions of propriety and economy
were always at variance.

Those who obtained no business found it particularly
hateful to keep up the foolish appearance of having
it by means of a post-chaise. You might not ride
in a public vehicle, or dine at a public table, or put up
at an inn for fear of falling in with attorneys and
obtaining briefs from them surreptitiously. The Home
Circuit was very strict in these respects, but it was
the cheapest circuit to travel in the kingdom, so that
its members were numerous and various in mind,
manner, and position.

But it was a circuit of brilliant men in my young
days. Many of them rose to eminence both in law and
in Parliament. It was a time, indeed, when, if Judges
made law, law made Judges.

I should like to say a word or two about those times


and the necessary studies to be undergone by those
who aspired to eminence.

In the days of my earliest acquaintance with the
law, an ancient order of men, now almost, if not
quite, extinct, called Special Pleaders, existed, who,
after having kept the usual number of terms that
is to say, eaten the prescribed number of dinners in the
Inn of Court to which they belonged became qualified,
on payment of a fee of 12, to take out a Crown
license to plead under the Bar. This enabled them
to do all things which a barrister could do that did
not require to be transacted in court. They drew
pleadings, advised and took pupils.

Some of them practised in this way all their lives and
were never called. Others grew tired of the drudgery,
and were called to the Bar, where they remained
junior barristers as long as they lived, old age having
no effect upon their status. Some were promoted to the
ancient order of Serjeant s-at-Law, or were appointed
Her Majesty's Counsel, while some of the Serjeants
received from the Crown patents of precedence with
priority over all Queen's Counsel appointed after them,
and with the privilege of wearing a silk gown and
a Queen's Counsel's wig.

There was, however, this difference between a
Queen's Counsel and the holder of a Patent of Prece-
dence : that the former, having been appointed one
of Her Majesty's Counsel, could not thenceforth appear
without special license under the sign-manual of the
Queen to defend a prisoner upon a criminal charge.
The Serjeant-at-Law is as rare now as a bustard.

I mention these old-fashioned times and studies, not
because of their interest at the present day, but because


they produced such men as Littledale, Bayley, Parke
(afterwards Lord Wensleydale), Alderson, Tindal,
Patterson, Wightman, Crompton, Vaughan Williams,
James, Willes, and, later, Blackburn.

The contemplation of these legal giants, amongst
whom my career commenced, somewhat checked the
buoyant impulse which had urged me onward at
Quarter Sessions, but at the same time imparted
a little modest desire to imitate such incomparable
models. Those of them who were selected from the
junior Bar were good examples of men whose vast
knowledge of law was acquired in the way I have
indicated, and who were chosen on their merits alone.

But even these successful examples, however en-
couraging to the student, were, nevertheless, not ill-
calculated to make a young barrister whose income
was small, and sometimes, as in my case, by no means
assured to him, sicken at the thought that, study as he
liked, years might pass, and probably would, before
a remunerative practice came to cheer him. Perhaps
it would never come at all, and he would become, like
so many hundreds of others of his day and ours, a
hopeless failure. All were competitors for the briefs
and even the smiles of solicitors ; for without their
favour none could succeed, although he might unite
in himself all the qualities of lawyer and advocate.

These were matters which I was unable, or, at all
events, unwilling, to appreciate when I first thought
of making my livelihood at the Bar, against which
I had received such solemn warnings. Baron Parke,
whom I have just mentioned, was a great lawyer,
and educated for the law, when the cultivation of
advocacy and great knowledge of the law were


essential to success. The first, I need not say, is a
natural gift, though capable of the highest training
and of essential use at the Bar ; the other is acquired
by time, study, practice, and patience, and is equally
essential on the Bench.

The prospect was not exhilarating for anyone who
had to perform the drudgery of the first few years of a
junior's life ; nevertheless, I was not cast down by the
mere apprehension, or, rather, the mere possibility of
failure, for when I looked round on my competitors
I was encouraged by the thought that dear old Woollet
knew more about a rate appeal than Littledale himself,
while old Peter Ryland, with his inimitable Saxon,
was quite as good at the irremovability of a pauper
as Codd was in accounting for the illegal removal of a
duck, and both in their several branches of knowledge
more learned than Alderson or Bay ley. But here I was,
launched on that wide sea in which I was ' to sink or
swim,' and, as I preferred the latter, I struck out with
a resolute breast-stroke, and, as I have said, never
failed to keep my head above water. It was some
satisfaction to know that if the Judges were so
learned, there was yet more learning to come ; much
yet to come down from the old table-land of the
common law, and much more from the inexhaustible
fountain of Parliament.

The Home Circuit was renowned for its many and
humorous stories, convivial accomplishments, and good-
fellowship. It was second to none, not excepting the
brilliant traditions of the Northern. I have already
said the book containing the record of our meetings
was lost.

The Quarter Sessions Court, however, was the


arena of my first eight years of professional life. I
watched and waited with unwearied attention, never
without hope, but often on the very verge of despair,
of ever making any progress which would justify my
choosing it as a profession. My greatest delight,
perhaps, was the obtaining an acquittal of someone
whose guilt nobody could doubt. All the struggle of
those times was the fight for the 'one three six,' and
the hardest effort of my life was the most valuable,
because it gave me the key which opened the door
to many depositories of unexplored wealth.

There were many men who outlived their life, and
others who never lived their lives at all ; many men
who did nothing, and many more who would almost
have given their lives to do something.

There was, however, one man of those days whom I
cannot here pass over, as he remained my companion
and friend to his life's end, and will be remembered
by me with affection and reverence to the end of my
own. It was ' old Bob Grimstone,' whom I first met
at the benefit of ' the Spider,' one of the famous
prize-fighters of the time. The Hon. Bob Grimstone
was known in the sporting world as one of its most
enthusiastic supporters, and acknowledged as one of
the best men in saddle or at the wicket. But Bob
was not only a sportsman, he was a gentleman of the
finest feeling you could meet, and the keenest sense of

Having thus spoken of some of the eminent men
of my early days, I would like to mention a little
incident that occurred before I had fairly settled down
to practise, or formed any serious intention as to the
course I should pursue that is to say, whether I


should remain a sessions man like dear old Woollet,
or become a master of Saxon like old Peter Ryland,
a sportsman like old Bob Grimstone, or a cosmopolitan
like Bod well, so as to comprehend all that came in
my way. I chose the latter for the simple reason
that in principle I loved what in these days would be
called ' the open door,' and received all comers, even
sometimes entertaining solicitors unawares.

Accordingly I laid myself open to the attention of
kind friends and people whose manner of life was
founded on the Christian principle of being ' given to

But before I come to the particular incident I wish
to describe, I must hark back to mention a remark-
able case that was tried in the Queen's Bench, and
which necessarily throws me back a year or two in my

It was a case known as ' Boyle and Lawson,' and the
incident it reveals will give an idea of the state of
society of that day. I am not sure whether it differs
in many respects from that of the present, except in so
far as its honour is concerned, for what was looked upon
then as a flagrant outrage on public morality is now
regarded as an error of judgment, or a mistake occa-
sioned by some fortuitous combination of unconsidered
circumstances. Such is the value in literature and
argument of long words without meaning.

However, the action was brought against the pro-
prietors of the Times newspaper for libel. The libel
consisted in the statement that the respectable
plaintiff a lady had conspired with persons un-
known to obtain false letters of credit for large sums
of money ' at a place/ strange to say, near the locality


where I met the prize-fighting gang I mentioned a
short while since.

The alleged conspirators were living in excellent
style in Norwich. How they had attained their social
distinction I am unable to say, but they were, in fact,
in the very best set, which in Norwich was by no
means the fastest.

I was travelling at this time with Charles Willshire
and his brother Thomas, who was a mere youth.
There was also an undergraduate of Cambridge of the
name of Crook with us, and another who had joined
our party for a few days' ramble.

We were enjoying ourselves in the old city of
Norwich as only youth can, when we received an
invitation to pass an evening in a very fashionable
circle. How the invitation came I could not tell, but
we made no inquiry and accepted it. Arrived at the
house, which was situated in the most aristocratic
neighbourhood that Norwich could boast, we found
ourselves in the most agreeable society we could wish
to meet. This was a group of exalted and fashion-
able personages arrayed in costumes of the superb
Prince Regent style. Nothing could exceed this party
in elegance of costume or manners. You could tell at
once they were, as it was then expressed, ' of the
quality.' Their cordiality was equalled only by their
courtesy, and had we been princes of the blood we
could not have received a more polite welcome. There
was an elegance, too, about the house, and a refine-
ment which coincided with the culture of the hosts
and guests. Altogether it was one of the most
agreeable parties I had ever seen. There were several
gentlemen, all Prince Regents, and one sweet lady,


charming in every way, from the well-arranged blonde
tresses to the neatest little shoe that ever adorned
a Cinderella foot. She was beautiful in person as she
was charming in manner. You saw at once that she
moved in the best Norwich society, and was the idol of
it. Crook was perfectly amazed at so much grace and
splendour, but then he was much younger than any of us.

I don't think anyone was so much smitten as
Crook. We had seen more of the world than he had
that is to say, more of the witness-box and if you
don't see the world there, on its oath, you can see it
nowhere in the same unveiled deformity.

We enjoyed ourselves very much. There was good
music and a little sweet singing, the lady being in that
art, as in every other, well trained and accomplished.
If I was not altogether ravished with the perform-
ance, Crook was. You could see that by the tender
look of his eyes.

After the music, cards were introduced, and they
commenced playing vingt-et-un, Crook being the special
favourite with everybody, especially with the ladies.
I believe much was due to the expression of his eyes.

As I had given up cards I did not join in the game,
but became more and more interested in it as an
onlooker. I was a little surprised, however, to find
that in a very short while, comparatively, our friend
Crook had lost 30 or 40 ; and as this was the greater
part of his allowance for travelling expenses, it placed
him in a rather awkward position.

Some men travel faster when they have no money ;
this was not the case with poor Crook, who travelled
only by means of it. Alas, I thought, twenty-one and
vingt-et-un ! It was a serious matter, and the worse


because Crook was not a good loser ; he lost his head
and his temper as well as his money ; and I have ever
observed through life that the man who loses his
temper loses himself and his friends.

He was disgusted with his bad luck, but nurtured a
desperate hope the forlorn hope that deceives all
gamblers that he should retrieve his losses on some
future occasion, which he eagerly looked for and, one
might say, demanded.

The occasion was not far oft' ; it was, in fact, nearer
than Crook anticipated. His pleasant manner and
agreeable society at vingt-et-un procured us another
invitation for the following night but one, and of
course we accepted it. It was a great change to me
from the scenery of the Elm Court chimney-pots.

Whatever might be Crook's happily sanguine dis-
position and hope of retrieving his luck, there was
one thing which the calculator of chances does not
take into consideration in games of this kind. We,
visiting such cultured and fashionable people, would
never for a moment think so meanly of our friends ;
I mean the possibility of their cheating, a word never
mentioned in well-bred society. A suspicion of such
conduct, even, would be tantamount to treason,
and a violation of the rules that regulate the conduct
of ladies and gentlemen. It was far from all our
thoughts, and the devil alone could entertain so
malevolent an idea. Be that as it may, as a matter
of philosophy, the onlooker sees most of the game, and
as I was an onlooker this is what I saw :

The elegant lady exchange glances with one of the
players while she was looking over Crook's hand !
Crook was losing as fast as he could, and no


wonder. I was now in an awkward position. To
have denounced our hosts because I interpreted a
lady's glances in a manner that made her worse than a
common thief might have produced unknown trouble.
But I kept my eye on the beautiful blonde, neverthe-
less, and became more and more confirmed in my
suspicions without any better opportunity of declaring

The charming well-bred lady thus communicating
her knowledge of Crook's cards, I need not say he was
soon reduced to a state of insolvency ; and as the party
was too exclusive and fashionable to extend their hospi-
tality to those who had not the means of paying, it
soon broke up, and we returned to our rooms, I
somewhat wiser and Crook a great deal poorer.

Such was the adventure which came to my mind
when I saw in the Queen's Bench at Westminster the
trial of ' Boyle and Lawson ' against the Times for
calumnious insinuations against the character of a lady
and others, suggesting that they obtained false letters
of credit to enable them to cheat and defraud.

This was the select party which Norwich society
had lionized the great unknown to which we had
been introduced, and where Crook had been cheated
out of his travelling money !

The lady was the fair plaintiff in this action, seeking
for the rehabilitation of her character, and she suc-
ceeded in effecting that object so far as the outlay of
one farthing would enable her to do so, for that was
all the jury gave her, and it was exactly that amount
too much. Her character was worth more to her in
Crook's time.

Speaking of a man running society on his fees that


is, endeavouring to cope with the rich on the mere
earnings of a barrister, however large they may be I
have met with several instances which would have
preserved me from the same fate had I ever been
cursed with such an inclination. The number of
successful men at the Bar who have been ruined by
worshipping the idol which is called ' Society/ and
which is perhaps a more disastrous deity to worship
than any other, is legion. This is one unhappy
example, the only one I intend to give.

While I was living in Bond Street, and working
very hard, I had little time and no inclination to lounge
about amongst the socially great ; I had, indeed, no
money to spend on great people. The entrance-fee
into the portals of the smart society temple is heavy,
especially for a working man, and so found the bright
particular star who had long held his place amidst the
splendid social galaxy, and then disappeared into
a deeper obscurity than that from which he had
emerged, to be seen no more for ever.

He was a Queen's Counsel, a brilliant advocate in
a certain line of business, and a popular, agreeable,
intellectual, and amusing companion. He obtained
a seat in Parliament and a footing in Society, which
made him one of its selected and principal lions. In
every Society paper, amongst its most fashionable
intelligence, there was he ; and Society hardly seemed
to be able to get along without him.

One Sunday afternoon I was reading in my little
room when this agreeable member of the elite called
upon me. My astonishment was great, because at
that time of my career not only did I not receive
visitors, but such a visitor was beyond all expectation,

VOL. I. 9


and I wondered, when his name was announced, what
could have brought him, he so great and I com-
paratively nothing. It is true I had known him for
some time, but I knew him so little that I thought of
him as a most estimable great man whose career was
leading him to the highest distinction in his profes-

Another extraordinary thing that struck me long
after, but did not at the time, was that the business
he came upon made no particular impression on my
mind, any more than if it had been the most ordinary
thing in the world. That to me is still inexplicable.

My visitor did not let troubles sit upon him, if
troubles he ever had, for he seemed to be in the highest
spirits. Society kept him ever in a state of effervescent
hilarity, so that he never let anything trouble him.
At this time he was making at the Bar seven or eight
thousand a year, and consequently, I thought, must
be the happiest of men.

His manner was agreeable, and his face wore a
smile of complacency at variance with the nature of
his errand, which he quickly took care to make known
by informing me that he was in a devil of a mess, and
did not know what he should do to get out of it.

' Oh/ I said quite carelessly, ' you'll manage.' And
little did I think I should be the means of fulfilling
my own prophecy.

' The fact is, my dear Hawkins,' said the wily
intriguer, for such he was, ' I'll tell you seriously
how I stand : to-morrow morning I have bills becoming
due amounting to 1,250, and I want you to be good
enough to lend me that sum to enable me to meet


I was perfectly astounded 1 This greatness to have
come down to 1,250 on the wrong side of the ledger.

' I have no such amount,' said I, ' and never had
anything like it at my bank.' I must say I pitied
him, and began to wonder in what way I could help
him. He was so really arid good-naturedly in earnest,
and seemed so extremely anxious, that at last I said,
' Well, I'll see what I can do,' and asked him to meet
me in court the following morning, when I would tell
him whether I could help him or not.

His gratitude was boundless ; my kindness should
never be forgotten no, as long as he lived ! and if he
had been addressing a common jury he could not have
used more flowers of speech or shed more abundant
tears to water them with. I was the best friend he
had ever had. And, as it seemed afterwards, very
foolishly so, because he told me he had not one farthing
of security to offer for the loan. A man who ought
to have been worth from fifty to a hundred thousand
pounds !

However, I went to my bankers' and made arrange-
ments to be provided with the amount. I met him
at the place of appointment, and was quite surprised
to see the change in his demeanour since the day
before. He was now apparently in a state of deeper
distress than ever ; and, thinking to soothe him, I
said, ' It's all right ; you can have the money !'

Once more he overwhelmed me with the eloquence

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